Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Choral Classics from City of Glasgow Chorus – 6 November 2011

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Spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon at Christ the King Church in Castlemilk. The City of Glasgow Chorus were performing some Choral Classics, and this seemed far more interesting than doing the ironing.

The concert was performed under the baton of Graham Taylor, accompanied by John Langdon on the organ.

The choir was well balanced in voices with 23 Sopranos, 24 Altos, 6 Tenors and 12 Basses. This was particularly noticeable in the unaccompanied works and the quiet sections. I am not a great fan of the Taverner or the Rutter, however these were performed competently by the chorus.

Once the chorus had arrived on stage, they went straight into Zadok the Priest, ably accompanied by John Langdon on the Organ. Following the introduction by Graham Taylor, there were two contrasting pieces Cantique de Jean Racine, quiet and contemplative, followed by the Hallelujah Chorus, the grand finale to part two of Handel’s Messiah. The choral journey then took us to Dibley, with Howard Goodall’s arrangement of Psalm 23. The next few works were more reflective and contemplative rather than rejoicing songs of praise. This group started with Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco by Verdi, followed by The Easter Hymn from Cavalleria rusticana by Mascagni and Sleep by Eric Whittaker. This change in mood was well reflected by the Chorus including some of the more unusual harmonies in the unaccompanied work by Whittaker. Ave verum corpus by Mozart returned to accompanied singing. The first half concluded with a romp through Haydn’s The heavens are telling from Creation.

The choir had a rest whilst John Langdon played an Organ Interlude, one of Bach’s Organ Fugue. It was a shame that the audience chattered through the performance. Prior to the resumption of the choral works, the Director of Music gave a plug for the CD that have been recorded by the City of Glasgow Chorus, and were on sale at the concert.

The resumption started with the Arrival of the Queen Sheba, unusually with the words Rejoice Greatly. The John Taverner work, The Lamb was sensitively performed, as was the following work – Ave maria by Schubert. The volume level changed with I Was Glad, however the contrasting dynamics of the piece were well observed. The collaborative work between Mary Coleridge and Charles Villier Stanford The Bluebird took the concert back to a contemplative phase, which was followed by John Rutter’s Gaelic Blessing. The tempo and volume increased with Faure’s Angus Dei from his Requiem, before reaching the climax with the finale for Handel’s Messiah – Worthy is the Lamb, Amen

Following the vote of thanks from the priest of Christ the King, the concert was concluded with Schubert’s Holy, Holy, Holy

There were several things about the concert that detracted from what an excellent performance.

Firstly was the lack of a programme. This resulted in Graham Taylor announcing the items sometimes before, sometimes after the work had been performed. He did not wait for the audience applause to conclude meaning that the first few words were missed. I was at the side about halfway down and had to listen hard to pick up what was being said.

Secondly, and something which I was responsible for for many years with Strathaven Choral Society, this was the layout of the choir. The Sopranos were well to the left, resulting the choir having a lopsided look. The tenors especially were badly positioned with the tallest member in the front row with a Soprano on one side and an alto on the other. Two of the smallest tenors were at the back of the grouping. This resulted in the front row of the altos being much further to the left than the rear row. This is a shame really as the layout and positioning of the singers helps with the look and also for the individuals to be able to hear each other.

A highlight of the concert for me was the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. I have never heard it as a choral work before, and it works well.

All in all, a well performed and rounded concert.

Concert programme:

  • Zadok the Priest (Handel)
  • Cantique de Jean Racine (Faure)
  • Hallelujah Chorus, Messiah (Handel)
  • Psalm 23 (Howard Goodall)
  • Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Nabucco (Verdi)
  • The Easter Hymn, Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni)
  • Sleep (Eric Whittaker)
  • Ave verum corpus, (Mozart)
  • The heavens are telling, Creation (Haydn)
  • Organ Interlude – Bach’s Fugue in G
  • Arrival of the Queen Sheba, Solomn (Handel) with the words Rejoice Greatly
  • The Lamb (Taverner)
  • Ave maria Schubert)
  • I Was Glad (Parry)
  • The Bluebird (Mary Coleridge/CV Stanford)
  • Gaelic Blessing (Rutter)
  • Angus Dei, Requiem (Faure)
  • Worthy is the Lamb, Amen (Messiah)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy, (Schubert)

Author: Stewart

An instrumentation engineer who enjoys photography and singing. Working in the West of Scotland; a member of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow and Southwark Cathedral; and a volunteer guard/signalman on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales.

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